Midwifery from Tudors to the 21st Century: History, Politics and Safe Practice in England, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Midwifery from Tudors to the 21st Century

History, Politics and Safe Practice in England, 1st Edition

By Julia Allison


248 pages | 6 B/W Illus.

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pub: 2020-07-13
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This book recounts the journey of English midwives over six centuries and their battle for survival as a discrete profession, caring safely for childbearing women.


With a particular focus on sixteenth and twentieth century midwifery practice, it includes new research which provides evidence of the identity, social status, lives, families and practice of contemporary midwives and argues that the excellent care given by ecclesiastically licensed midwives in Tudor England was not bettered until the twentieth century. Using a wide variety of archived and personally collected material, this history illuminates the lives, words, professional experiences and outcomes of midwives. It explores the place of women in society, the development of midwifery education and regulation, the seventeenth century arrival of the accoucheurs and the continuing drive by obstetricians to medicalise birth.


A fascinating and compelling read, it highlights the politics and challenges that have shaped midwifery practice today and encourages readers to be confident in midwifery-led care and giving women choices in childbirth. It is an important read for all those interested in childbirth.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements, List of Figures, List of Tables, Foreword, Preface, Glossary of Terms, Definitions and Conventions, Introduction, 1.Late Medieval and Tudor Midwives 2.Tudor Midwives Their Lives and Practice 3.Midwives and Maternal Death in Tudor England 4.Midwives and Infant Death in Tudor England 5.Challenge and Change to Midwifery Practice 6.Midwives, Accoucheurs and the Bills of Mortality 7.Midwives, Institutions and Civil Registration 8.Certified and State Certified English Midwives 9.Early Years Following The 1902 Midwives Act 10.English Midwives In Peace and War 1936-1946 11.National Health Service and the Domiciliary Midwife 12.District Midwives and General Practitioners 13.Centralisation and Medicalisation of Midwifery Care 14.Hospitalisation of Birth, 1973-1989 15.Statutory Control, Higher Education and Better Birth? Conclusion: English Midwives 15th - 21st Century. Appendices: Transcript of Midwife Margaret Burwood’s Will, Early Parish Registers Read for this Book, Early Midwives licensed and unlicensed, Index

About the Author

Julia Allison is Honorary Professor at the University of Nottingham, UK. She is currently Vice President of Royal College of Midwives, and is a past General Secretary.

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain
HISTORY / Social History
MEDICAL / Health Care Delivery
MEDICAL / Nursing / Maternity, Perinatal, Women's Health
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Disease & Health Issues